'We lost a great one': Eau Claire high school band director killed in crash

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A band director at an Eau Claire high school was killed in a crash over the weekend, and his absence will be felt throughout several musical programs in the area.

Gene Power, 35, who WEAU reports joined the staff at Memorial High School ahead of this school year, was killed when he hit a tree on County Highway E in Dodge County, Wisconsin, just before 11 p.m. Saturday.

"We lost a great one," Joe Luginbill, who had Power as a band director at North High School, told WQOW. Luginbill is now on the Eau Claire School Board.

Luginbill noted Power was "genuine, kind and funny" and inspired students to "excel as musicians and human beings," the news station says.

Power was the only person in the car when he went onto the gravel shoulder of the road, before his car spun into the opposite lane and hit a culvert then a tree, reports note. Alcohol and speed appear to have been factors in the crash, which is still under investigation.

He had been at a wedding and reception prior to the crash, those who knew him told the Leader-Telegram.

'He will be sorely, sorely missed'

Power worked with many musical programs throughout the region during his career, including serving on the staff of Kids from Wisconsin.

Before coming to Memorial High School, he worked with the band program at North High School in Eau Claire, where he turned the struggling program around, and in just three years tripled the size of it, Eric Dasher, marching and concert bands director at Memorial, told the Leader-Telegram.

“He commanded a room, just by how talented he was and how he instructed students regardless of their level. He will be sorely, sorely missed," Memorial principal Dave Oldenberg told the Leader-Telegram.

Power also served as the assistant conductor for the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony and served as the orchestra director for the Chippewa Valley Theater Guild and the Eau Claire Children's Theater, his bio on Kids from Wisconsin says.

The Minneapolis native received his bachelor's degree in music education from UW-Eau Claire in 2002 and his masters degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012, his Kids from Wisconsin bio notes.

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